It was all in front of the Scarlet Knights heading into Sunday’s matchup against Maryland.
Rutgers came into the day with four games left on the schedule and needing two victories to sit comfortably in the NCAA Tournament picture. The Scarlet Knights entered this game as favorites but their offensive struggles continued in a 68-59 loss at the hands of the Terrapins.
To make matters worse, fans held their collective breath when Jacob Young limped off the floor with 40 seconds left in the game. Young had another strong performance with 19 points on 6-for-13 shooting. Steve Pikiell said Young was in the training room during his postgame press conference but had no update on his status.
Rutgers (12-9, 8-9) began the game hitting 2-of-3 from beyond the arc and 6-of-9 overall. They would go onto miss 25-of-25 overall and their next 11 from three-point range. Rutgers finished 5-for-22 from deep and shot 38% overall.
The score was knotted at 16 when Maryland (14-10, 8-9) went on a 12-2 run to gain control. The Scarlet Knights went the final 5:16 of the first half without a field goal. The second half was more of the same. A Paul Mulcahy layup broke a stretch of 7:26 without a made shot for Rutgers.
Maryland was able to 15 with 11:01 left but Rutgers had one final run left in them. From that moment on, the Scarlet Knights went on an 11-2 run, capped off by a three-point play from Montez Mathis. This cut the deficit to 47-41 but the Terrapins quickly built it was up to double-digits.
The Terrapins were able to sit comfortably over the final minutes of this contest. They had five players finish in double-figures, led by Eric Ayala with 14 points.
A string of poor offense continues for the Scarlet Knights. They turned the ball over 15 times and finished with just 10 assists.
The Scarlet Knights still have a chance to get to the magic number of 10 wins in the Big Ten. Maryland handed the Scarlet Knights one of their worst losses of the season, shades of January’s loss to Penn State, while taking a step towards punching their tickets to the dance.
This was an extremely important homestand for Rutgers and they still have a chance to split on Wednesday when Indiana comes to Piscataway. If they fall to the Hoosiers, things will get dicey for the Scarlet Knights over their final two games of the season. They will end with road games against Nebraska and Minnesota the first week of March.